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Shredded Cabbage

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 10 Nov 13:06 PST
Damage to Wild Oats XI as bottom section of mast fails, and loads up the deck. © Voile Dock Talk

It's a handy ingredient for dim sims, coleslaw, burritos, soups, and a bunch of other dishes. It is not so flash when it comes to ocean racing, however. Sail makers often refer to them as CVDs, or Commercially Viable Days, but the extent of some of the issues caused by the blustery conditions experienced before and at the start of the CYCA Cabbage Tree Race on Friday will also have the shipwrights involved.

No Limit hit South Head, and InfoTrack blew two kites out, at least one of which was before they even left the Harbour. They also took care of their mainsail battens, so a bad gybe or two would seem to be a likely cause.

Doh!

Yet it was Wild Oats XI with the greatest calamity, as they nearly blew the rig out of boat. She subsequently pulled into Newcastle. A tremendous amount of seamanship, and a nice dose of luck has allowed them all to walk away unscathed, and with damage that can be repaired, as opposed to fatal.

Now the team have an old stick at the dock at Woolwich, but the word is they may try to cut and shut a new section into the bottom where at least 5m compressed and 'went bang', according to those on board. Section failure appears to be the cause.

They were lit up with the R2 hoisted when it twisted, and it has cracked the deck as well. 'Miracle we do not loose rig' was another statement from on board.

The incident happened at 2030hrs Friday night, off the coast of about Terrigal (pretty place BTW). Iain Murray commented once back in Sydney, "We got off as lightly as we could really. These boats carry enormous loads, so when you get a failure in that sort of situation, everything goes out of alignment. The deck was asked to carry a load not normally requested of it."

"The boat's all packed up, the mast is down and on the deck, and she'll motor back to Woolwich, where the process will start. We will repair the mast we have, and McConaghy's will rebuild the deck and other affected areas. Thankfully there as no major sail damage, and we had our old mainsail on. So yes, we got off remarkably lightly, compared to what could have been", said Murray reflecting on keeping the rig up, not over side, creating holes in the boat and so forth.

There was over 30 knots of breeze at the time, and they did see 40 on approach to Newcastle, which they elected to head to, as it was downhill. "We had 32 knots of boat speed when it happened, reaching away with headsails. We had a kite up for the start, but there was too much West in it once outside, so we went to the double headsail sail plan to be able to hold course."

"We had to keep it on port, as the rig was hanging out to leeward, so even with three reefs we were still doing 15 knots. Certainly the experience of the crew to deal with it really well shone through. Everyone did their job, got the sails down pronto, and so the fact that we saved the rig is remarkable. Dealing with the situation swiftly and accurately has left us with a small problem, not a huge one."

"Honestly, we are lucky it happened in this race, to expose the problem, as we have time to sort it out. The good news is that Wild Oats Xi was going like a scolded cat before it happened." That of course is pretty important when you are chasing your tenth Line Honours victory in the impending Sydney Hobart race. Murray added, "This latest round of upgrades is working (return of the for'ard canard and extra weight out of the boat as well). We have seen this movie before. We'll be on the start line and all strong."

Apart from McConaghy going to work on her structural issues, Southern Spars will have to make another, totally bespoke bottom section, and I dare say sleeve, as these parts have been replaced before.

All Set!

"It is all done and dusted, and best of all we have qualified for the 75th Sydney to Hobart Race. It is difficult to keep on these boats on the water, and we had just done a few weeks together after putting it her back together after he last birthday. Maybe this helped us", said Black Jack's Skipper, Mark Bradford.

"It was nice when everyone left us, and we could just get on with completing the race. We saw 34-knot gusts as the maximum, and it was ranging between 24-34 the whole time. We started in the new Southerly, and ripped out the Harbour, with all three of us (Black Jack, Wild Oats XI, and InfoTrack) really sprinting. Then the others all fell down around us, and thankfully we have come away all unscathed."

"We have improved and achieved a top boat speed of 28 knots. We could not go with Wild Oats XI in those conditions before, but now we have had a couple of hours directly boat on boat with them, and good ideas have come from that. Interestingly, the configurations have all changed for both of us, and the boats are similar. We hope they get back on water, as there is a lot of good sailing ahead of us."

Not there - has she indeed been sold?

Comanche was not out, and not a lot has been heard after two new kites were blown out in this year's Transpac. It was widely known that Jim Cooney was keen to sell, but the recent holding pattern, and radio silence with crew slated for the impending 75th Hobart, would tend to indicate that this campaign is not a true flyer. Tick Tock. Tick Tock... Two Americans, and one Russian have been linked to the purchase, with the latter 'story' all set to go down after the Hobart. We will see.

And the Scallywag?

Well she has arrived into AUS, and her stick will be in at the end of the week, with some new ET6 standing rigging holding that in column.

SuperFoiler with RecordPoint sails?

Curious to see that after testing their new sails on the one vessel, that these old RecordPoint ones would pop out. Not like you did not have all the old data, you know... Certainly this would categorically indicate that one Michael Firmin, owner of RecordPoint, is the man behind the 'new' SuperFoilers, however.

The new daggerfoils and rudders conceptualised by Glenn Ashby, with full engineering by Morrelli and Melvin, and input from Moth sailor Harry Mighell, would appear to have stability as the winner. No more real outright speed was achieved, but a much tamer beast was seen as a very favourable thing!!!

Right oh - here today there are some gems for you to review like the Brest Atlantique with the Ultim Tris, Joyon sets Mauritius record, Transat Jacques Vabre, intel from North Sails, GC32s, TP52s, the Clippers, 18-Footers, Maiden continues her global trek, furlers with Wichard Pacific, AC75s, and certainly there is much, much more.

Now if your class or association is generating material, we can help you spread your word just by emailing us. Got this newsletter from a friend? Would you like your own copy next week? Just follow the instructions on our newsletter page. Whilst there, you can also register for other editions, like Powerboat-World.

Finally, keep a weather eye on Sail-World. We are here to bring you the whole story from all over the world...

John Curnow
Editor, Sail-World AUS

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